Andrea Delgado-Olson: Computer Scientist, Founder, Trailblazer
Andrea Delgado-Olson is a leader in the computer science industry, fighting to create a community for her fellow Native American women in tech. From a mid-life career change to founding a company dedicated to privacy to working her way up the career ladder, her ambition is inspiring. Join us to learn about Delgado-Olson’s amazing story and what she’s up to today.
Image courtesy of LinkedIn.
Andrea Delgado-Olson was born and raised in Oakland, California, and is a member of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in the Northern Sierra Foothills of California.
Growing up, Delgado-Olson looked up to her mother, who was an attorney for the federal government in the Office of Special Counsel. Her mom led a team of men and was often the only woman in the room. In an interview with Medium, Delgado-Olson recalled how she learned about leadership, strength, and persistence from her mother.
In 1998, Delgado-Olson received her teaching certification and taught preschool for 15 years.
She went back to school in 2013 at Mills College in Oakland, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in education- and where she also discovered her love for tech when taking a required computer science course. She went on to earn her Master’s in computer science in 2015 from Mills College.
Native American Women in Computing
After attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing during grad school in 2014, Delgado-Olson was inspired to create Native American Women in Computing (NAWiC). Aiming to create a community of other Native women in tech to share heritage and interests, NAWiC provides resources to women across both North and South America.
In 2020, Delgado-Olson teamed up with Zaza Soriano to create Zaawink, a company dedicated to respecting employee privacy while keeping the workplace safe during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, some companies were requiring employees to have their temperatures taken by a hired third party before they were able to work in an attempt to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading. However, Delgado-Olson and Soriano saw that these third parties lacked confidentiality, accuracy, and security, posing a threat to both workplace safety and employee privacy.
Zaawink provided watches that employees would wear around the clock at work that kept track of temperature information. That data would then be provided to businesses, giving them constantly updated and aggregated information that kept the personally identifiable information about the employees hidden. Zaawink remained in business from March 2020 until January 2022, when there was no longer a need to take employee temperatures.
Andrea Delgado-Olson Today
On top of staying active with NAWiC, Delgado-Olson has maintained a robust resume over the past ten years. From starting as an intern in 2015 for the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology to her current position as executive director of IndigiGenius, she’s worked hard to build a name for herself in the computer science field.
Andrea Delgado-Olson’s LinkedIn profile describes her as “driven by [her] mission to connect Indigenous youth to tech careers by encouraging them to explore pathways into technology and inspiring them to pursue their dreams.”